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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 29, 2017

Tuesday and I'm catching up!

Strangely enough, Tuesday seems to have been a one-event day.  Neither Chris nor I have any pictures beyond the first place we visited.

So, the first and only place we visited was the Pietre Dure Museum.  I mentioned it in yesterday's post and had a couple examples of the art.  My explanation of it wasn't very good so I've copied out the Wikipedia explanation.  When they speak of stones, they mean every type of stone - they had a whole wall full of samples of pieces used in this craft.  So here's what Wiki has to say:

"...is a term for the inlay technique of using cut and fitted, highly polished colored stones to create images. It is considered a decorative art. The stonework, after the work is assembled loosely, is glued stone-by-stone to a substrate after having previously been "sliced and cut in different shape sections; and then assembled together so precisely that the contact between each section was practically invisible". Stability was achieved by grooving the undersides of the stones so that they interlocked, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, with everything held tautly in place by an encircling 'frame'. Many different colored stones, particularly marbles, were used, along with semiprecious, and even precious stones."

Of course, the craftsman first has to have a pattern to work from, either that they make themselves or that a designer provides.

All of my pictures today are from the museum and it was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

And the first one, after all that Wiki info, is made from glass - not stones and it's 3-dimensional, not flat.  But it is in the museum on loan from the museum that owns it because the Pietre Dure workshops were involved in its restoration.  The museum had an interesting video about the restoration work and amazingly enough, aside from painting, gluing, etc., the work was accomplished by using a 3-D printer!  Most of what the museum replaced was the gold trim that you can see in the next picture going across the bottom of the piece.  That border was around all four sides and the original scrollwork was missing in a number of places.

This was a pretty piece but the main reason I took a picture of it was because it's the first time I have ever seen Mary depicted as pregnant.  And below is the close-up.

A beautiful case - all the drawer fronts are pierre dura.
This is a really interesting stone - when a piece is sliced off, it will have more or less a landscape look.  We had stopped at a couple of stores selling pierre dura pictures and such and they had a number of these, some looking very much like a village in the background or landscape.  So in one like this, the only thing the craftsman did was add the animal and the man.
 A lovely table top...
 And since I've seen a lot of ceilings on this trip and here's another one - very simple and pretty.

 This wasn't a favorite piece for me because the pierre dude (the four small sides of the top thingie) are pretty much overwhelmed by the rest of the structure.  I was told it was a jardiniere which Google says is a container for plants or flowers.

They had about 5 of these sets which show the artists painting on the bottom and the finished pietre dure.  The fine detail they can achieve using stone is truly amazing.
 Another pretty table with, unfortunately, that darned gold bar to keep me from sitting down to eat, I guess.  I like the bottom of this one better cause the cupids on the other one were a bit much for me.

The top floor was given over to displaying the tools of the trade and I really enjoyed seeing these workbenches.

 This one was probably my favorite.  You can barely see the wire going through the slab of stone but it's there (see next photo)  and I suppose you could keep putting a heavier wire on until you had the size of circle you needed.  Or maybe it's just for when you need a really eensy, teensy circle.  Anyway, pretty clever.

And that's the end of the museum.

Like I said above, we had stopped at a couple of shops selling petrie dure pieces partly because Chris had been toying with the idea of buying one as his special souvenir.  However, on his first visit to Florence in 2014, he had passes a jewelsmith's shop and seen in the window little "plaques" copying the large plaques that  go around the doom's bell tower.  They are octagonal and each one is different.  There are 26 of them.  So he decided that he wanted to go to that shop first and decide which between one of those and a piece of pietre dure.  I absolutely loved the shop.  It's a a family-run shop and has been in business for  four generations.  There are all sorts of bits and pieces to look at, there's a delightful little caramel curly-haired dog that sits in a chair and watches the activity, the father was working on a couple of pieces while we were there, the son was helping Chris, the mother helped when the sale was made, as did the daughter.  I wish I had taken more photos of the shop but I didn't want to seem too intrusive.
Chris ended up buying one of the little plaques - probably about 2-1/2" in size and is six-sided.  I believe I heard them talking about it being pewter, but right now, it's highly polished.  A very nice piece and I know Chris is thrilled with it, especially after having such a nice visit with the family.

On the way back to the hotel we went to GustaPizza again for a quite late lunch and a glass of wine, went back to the hotel and worked on pictures, blog, and such and didn't even go out for dinner.  Around 8 or so I began to feel peckish so we went to another place filled with locals and I got a piece of  a very good sort of chocolate torte type thing and brought it back to eat with a cup of tea.  And that was it - a very nice day and a nice change from go, go, go.

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